Report Says Wiretaps Got Too Little Legal Review
James Risen and Eric Lichtblau write on The New York Times:
The warrantless surveillance program approved by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks received too little legal review at its inception and its ultimate effectiveness was unclear, according to an in-depth review released Friday by the inspectors general of five federal agencies.More here.
The Bush administration had defended the wiretapping program, one of the government’s most highly classified operations to have been disclosed in recent years, as a vital intelligence-gathering tool that gave intelligence officials the ability to respond more quickly to possible terrorist threats.
But the independent auditors, reviewing the program at the request of Congress, found that other intelligence tools used in assessing threats provided more timely information and that the value of the program was unclear.
The report said that while the program obtained information that “had value in some counterterrorism investigations, it generally played a limited role in the F.B.I.’s overall counterterrorism efforts.”
In addition, most intelligence officials interviewed as part of the review group “had difficulty citing specific instances” in which the wiretapping program contributed to successes against terrorists.